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How to Start a Nail Salon

Nail salons offer a variety of beauty and nail care services such as pedicures, manicures, nail art, etc. They cater to different audiences and because many of the customers return repeatedly, they can build up a loyal client base fast. According to studies, the total market is expected to grow 18% this year and reach a value of $22.6 billion by 2025.

If you’re looking to join the nail care bandwagon, this guide will help you understand what you can expect in terms of costs, required skill, and everything else you need in order to make sure your nail salon is successful.


1.   Create a Business Plan

The first step is to spend time creating a detailed nail salon business plan that will help you map out the specifics of your business. A few important questions to answer when creating your business plan are: Who are your target customers? How much will it cost to launch your business? How many workers do you need to hire? How will you train them?

Be sure to create a list of your business goals, as well as an estimated timeline of when you will have your location, internal logistics, and products. The more detailed your plan, the more solid your foundation will be.

2.   What Skills Will You Need?

In order to successfully run your business, you will need some management abilities, business knowledge, and marketing skills. You will also need to have proper education. All US states require nail technicians to have a cosmetology license, which typically requires a GED or high school diploma.

As you bring on new employees, you will need to be able to train them in your approaches and policies. You will also need some marketing and blogging skills, in order to be ableto promote your business. Branding knowledge, social media experience, and email newsletter creation skills are all valuable skills that can come in very handy. If you don’t have any marketing knowledge, consider hiring a professional who will take on these responsibilities.

3.   Costs to Start a Nail Salon

Some of the larger costs to start a nail salon include salon chairs and stations, waiting area furniture, ventilation system, reception desk, and scheduling software.

Most nail salons need multiple nail technicians. Technicians typically make from $22,000 to $43,000 a year and their compensation is largely commission-based. Technicians usually make 35%-60% percent of the value of the nail treatments they perform. As your business grows, you might need to hire additional staff, such as manicurist (salary between $20,000 and $50,000 per year), aesthetician (annual salary from $23,000 to $56,000), salon manager (salary between $21,000 and $47,000 a year), and receptionist (annual salary from $17,000 to $29,000).

You will also need to invest in various supplies, such as nail polishes, acetone, acrylic powder, nail clippers, cuticle oil, buffers, towels, lotions, etc.

4.   Obtain the Necessary Permits and Licenses

Certain state licenses and permits might be needed in order to run a nail salon. Most states require retail businesses to obtain a seller’s permit, which allows the state to record and collect taxes from sales. You can find out more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s website.

You are also likely to need a building permit and business license in order to officially open your business. Certain local licensing or regulatory requirements might also apply. If you are not sure what is required in your area, check with your local government or get in touch with a local business attorney.

5.   Invest in Business Insurance

Besides permits and licenses, your nail care business will also need insurance in order to operate lawfully and safely. There are several different types of insurance coverage for businesses depending on the risks. General liability insurance is the most common policy which protects your business from general claims involving property damage and bodily injuries.

Another type of coverage that many businesses need is workers’ compensation insurance which protects your business and your employees from work-related illnesses, accidents, and even death. Nearly every state requires that employers have this type of insurance to cover lost wages and medical costs for employees who become ill or injured on the job.

Final Thoughts

Starting a new business can be challenging, but thinking about these 5 steps as basic milestones can help track your progress. The more research and preparation you do, the fewer surprises and risks you will face when starting your nail salon.

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